SYDNEY, July 20 (Reuters) - The Australian and New Zealand dollars were lower on Tuesday as growing concerns about the impact of the Delta COVID-19 variant on the global economic recovery hit risk-sensitive currencies and pushed bonds higher.
The Australian dollar was 0.31% lower at $0.7325, stubbornly near the $0.7322 low it reached on Monday, its 2021 bottom, as investors moved to safe-harbour currencies like the U.S. dollar.
The New Zealand dollar was 0.22% weaker at $0.6927, near the $0.6918 low of its trading range for the past month and far from its July high of $0.7104.
“Learning to live with COVID is not being enthusiastically embraced amid the spread of the Delta variant,” said Australia and New Zealand Banking Group strategists. “With primary data releases absent this week ... the NZD will be driven primarily by risk appetite.”
New Zealand bonds moved sharply higher, pushing short term yields 6 to 7 basis points lower, while yields in the longer-end of the curve fell eight basis points.
Across the Tasman, Australia’s economic activity is taking a hit from COVID-19 lockdowns restricting the movements of more than half of its population.
Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia released on Tuesday showed it had been counting on the economy to keep surprising with its strength when it trimmed stimulus earlier this month.
Australian bonds also recorded gains, pushing the yield on the 10-year Australian government benchmark down six basis points to 1.172%, the lowest since February. The three-year bond yield fell four and a half basis points to 0.241%.
Reporting by Paulina Duran; editing by Jane Wardell